Posted in theology

How to refresh yourself in times of controversy

By Elizabeth Prata

Need to take a breath and reset? Refresh?

I always find that delving into the biblical doctrine of heaven helps me. Asking the Lord to renew to my mind the facts and glories of our upcoming destination is a great salve to my soul. This world is so awful and getting worse by the day. I mean, of course there’s beauty, and I strive to focus on that. Salvations, baptism, good preaching, flowers, fellowship, green pastures, gentle rain, grazing animals, all that-God’s grace in gifts to us.

But there’s all the other things we know too well and don’t need enumerating. Heartbreaks, death, illness, degeneration of the social compact, politics, news bias, rebellion, plain grossness…all that and more, tend to weigh us down.

So, look UP! Look away from all this to where there is purity and perfect peace.

I believe that John MacArthur’s series on What Heaven Is, is a wonderful break from pain, hubbub, and distractions. There are 8 messages, here. Also linked individually below. Some of the topics covered are- Where heaven is and what it is like, What you’ll be like in eternity, How you will relate to others, How you will relate to God, What you will do in heaven, and more. In the first sermon in the series, Dr. MacArthur said,

As I mentioned to you this morning, we’re going to start a series tonight on a new subject.  The subject is heaven.  And this is not going to be a like a sermon series, in many ways, but more like a class, at least tonight will be.  I want to teach you what the Bible has to say by way of introduction to the subject of heaven.

So, when you think about heaven, you’re identifying the place where your Father is, your Savior is, your brothers and sisters are, your name is there, your inheritance is there, your citizenship is there, your reward is there, your Master is there, of course, being God and Christ, and your treasure is there as well.  To sum it up: heaven is your home.

Before I moved from one town to another, as I have, I loved learning all I could about my upcoming new home. I looked up stats on the new town, looked for photos of the place, went to real estate sites to see houses, scanned Google Maps at street view to learn what it looked like. It’s only natural that we have a curiosity about where will will devote our time, skills, and money. We want to know what it will be like where we will raise our children, work, contribute to the community.

How much more then, should we be anticipating heaven? This biblical series may bless you as it did me, and illuminate the glorious future we all have there. Whether by imminent rapture, passing through the gate of death, we who are in Christ will be there one day. Anticipating that day helps us cope with this day, in a more peaceful and confident way.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What Heaven Is

Where Heaven Is and What It Is Like

The New Jerusalem

What We Will Be Like

How We Will Relate to One Another

How We Will Relate to God

What We Will Do, Part 1

What We Will Do, Part 2

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Posted in theology

The Day of the Rapture is ever nearer

By Elizabeth Prata

The rapture will happen, and every day that passes makes it one day closer.*

There are some people who say that we should not say it is near, and they cite Mark 13:32, where it says ‘no one knows the day nor hour’. Or they cite 1 Thessalonians 5:1 where Paul said the day of the Lord will be as a thief in the night, a surprise. Or they cite Acts 1:7, where we are told we will not know the times or dates God has set by His own authority.

They are right.

If you meet up with anyone who knows the time, hour, or day, run, for they are false.

In Luke 12 beginning in verse 35 there is a section called “Watchfulness”. Jesus says, “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning,” and later in vs. 37 He says, “It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes.

So when you try to relate the imminence of the times don’t let anyone brush you off from speaking of it with the old chestnut, “we do not know the day nor hour” (Unless you have just told them a day or an hour.)

Others claim that the rapture as a doctrine is made-up, won’t happen, and is a false thing to believe. People who say that use a faulty hermeneutic, and thus have arrived at a false notion of things. It’s sad, because hermeneutics is a moral issue, being that it involves how one handles scripture and how the result of that handling makes one think of the Savior’s character and promises. No, the Bride will not be enduring God’s wrath at the Tribulation and she won’t be dragged through the mud during the worst time on earth. Paul explained the rapture to his people at Thessalonica and said to be encouraged by it. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).

I feel the time is getting very close. I see the geo-political platform of the pieces coming together, the days and years passing, and I want to say WAKE UP!” “BE READY!”

I know so many people who are not ready. I have a near relative who has passed on. It seems he was never ready and likely dwells in hell now. Do I want my loved ones or friends to die apart from Jesus? No. Do I want my relatives or friends to go through the Tribulation, which will happen after the Rapture? No. I don’t want even my worst enemy to face the living hell of God’s wrath on earth, nor His wrath in eternity forever. The burden for the lost is heavy.

The world’s depravity is worsening by the day, but we knew that already. Paul told Timothy that the deception of men would wax worse and worse. (2 Timothy 3:13). Jesus said that things would get worse, and love would grow cold. (Matthew 24:12).

While the Lord may choose to defuse the situation on the earth and everything go back to something akin to normal or at least less depraved, that is His prerogative in His timing, but would He? Though God could certainly pull everything back from the brink, it is not probable, based on the verses above. Genesis 6:5 says

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

That’s how it is, the longer man goes without God, the worse his culture gets. It’s always a downward spiral. See: Judges.

In his essay What is This World Coming To? Exactly What Jesus Said it Would by Stephen Altrogge-

I would venture to say that many conservative television shows, and radio shows, and blogs, and podcasts, perpetuate the “what is this world coming to?” attitude. It’s not uncommon for talk radio hosts to spend three hours lamenting the decay of morals in the world. But we shouldn’t be shocked or dismayed. The world is coming to exactly what Jesus said it would come to, and this actually gives us a lot of hope.

We can be dismayed over a culture that is gross and depraved, as ours is in the United States, but if we are going to lament, let’s lament the destiny of those without Christ. This world is not our home. However, we can hope in Him, that all His promises are true. The world is getting worse, yes, Jesus said so. However He will return, He said so.

What this adds up to is the final decision. A person must decide if they will acknowledge their sins against Jesus and ask Him to forgive them, or not. Not doing so means they will be left behind when He comes very soon for us. The Bible says it’s imminent. Worse, the day of a person’s death is unknown to him, and if he or she should die without Christ, they will be lost forever.

There is no sin you have committed in your life that Jesus will not forgive! The only unforgivable sin is refusing His pardon for your sins. He loves you and wants to take care of you and bless you and treasure you. He wants to save you and lavish love on you and adopt you. Yes, YOU!

Though Jesus could settle the world and wait another 10-20-50 years, I truly think He will not. I really think that it’s close. I’ve been saying this for ten years and I’ll go on saying it for another 40, or as long as the Lord’s days of my life haven’t reached their number.

As Altrogge says

The good news is that, in spite of the wickedness which fills the world, the gospel of Jesus Christ will continue saving sinners! Yes, evil is powerful, but Jesus is more powerful! Yes, Satan prowls about like a roaring lion, but Jesus is the great lion slayer. Jesus encouraged Peter that the church would not be overcome, and would even stand against hell itself

Repent, for the kingdom of Jesus is at hand.

Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;e repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14b-15)

*A version of this essay appeared on The End Time in February 2012. It’s been edited and changed.

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Posted in discernment, theology

Social Justice, the Global Church, and Controversies

social justice

It has been dizzying this past 3 months in the evangelical wider world, and very worrying in the online evangelical world. The controversies have been deep and fervent. The lines between camps within visible Christianity have widened. Seemingly stable ministries have suddenly swerved hard.

There have been numerous events and controversies which reveal that we are less than unified over Christian foundational beliefs.

The April conference called MLK50 sparked a division in how we as Christians are to approach race discussions. TGC and GCC’s coupling for a west coast conference titled “Enduring Faithfulness” sparked a discussion about how far to delve into the culture and which topics are truly Gospel centered. Agreement was not reached and the two entities uncoupled. Beth Moore’s Letter to Brothers charged the global church with misogyny and threw gas in the cultural #MeToo movement, which in turn and inflamed the evangelical world’s discussion about the global church’s ‘treatment’ of women and their roles.

The ReVoice conference did the same for same-sex attraction and gay identity within Christianity. Paige Patterson was fired. The SBC messengers/members briefly seemed to flirt with the nomination of a woman, sparking a discussion about whether “women are called to positions of leadership” in church or para-churches. International Mission Board President David Platt delivered a 6-minute report to the SBC affirming Isa as Messiah and conversion through Muslim dreams. Popular actor Chris Pratt mentioned God and grace at an awards speech and the undiscerning Christian world joyfully affirmed it as Gospel, sparking a discussion about what the Gospel is and how many elements of it one needs in order to match the biblical message.

Todd Friel of Wretched Radio published a 23-minute excellent video talking about “The Gathering Storm: A Split in the Reformed World“.

In this 1-minute clip, Alistair Begg reminds us that the church’s mandate is not economic, social, or political. However the global church for so long now has been browbeat with the message that it is, that “people who should know better” have allowed its tendrils to creep into their minds and make inroads.

It has been a wild spring.

Nate Pickowitz is a New England pastor and author. Bio below. His wife Jessica wrote a wonderful study guide to the MacArthur/Mayhue tome Biblical Doctrine. This week Nate tweeted a series covering these issues in a gracious and insightful way. He said that “In truth, this thing has so many tendrils, it’s near impossible to wrap my brain around all that it is, but I’m trying.” I am too. I’ve ridden the roller coaster and in the end put my head in my hands wondering “What is happening?!?!

I decided that still and always my personal call to action is the same as it’s always been. Share the Gospel. Remind people of what the Gospel is. Urge people to reject any different Gospel. Use social media to present these messages. Repeat.

Here is Nate’s message. Perhaps it will help you solidify some thoughts about all this.

—————–Nate Pickowitz—————–

I’ve got serious pastoral concerns about recent growing trends in Evangelicalism. In truth, it seems to fall under one complex, multi-faceted mechanism. Frankly, I’m not sure if using labels is helping or hurting.

We’re seeing terms like “social justice,” “Cultural Marxism,” “liberalism,” even “intersectionality.” Advocates of this movement flatly reject these terms (perhaps they don’t subscribe to all the tenets of them), but we’re certainly seeing a noticeable movement in full force.

In truth, this thing has so many tendrils, it’s near impossible to wrap my brain around all that it is, but I’m trying.

I believe that there are some advocates of this who are masquerading as Christians who are not. I also believe that there are genuine, regenerate Christians who are part of this as well.

However, my biggest concern has to do with the gospel itself. What is the gospel? The gospel is “good news”—it is the message of what Jesus Christ has done on the cross to save us from condemnation due to sin. And this work reconciles us, first to God, second to other believers.

So, “reconciliation” is key. Again, it is primarily about us and God, but when we are transferred into His kingdom, we are reconciled to every other blood-bought believer through the very same gospel.

However, Jesus never promises prosperity, societal prominence, earthly equity, an end to suffering, earthly utopia, freedom from insult & injustice, political success, or any other earthly temporal blessing.

We are seated with Christ “in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:3); we live in the hope of an inheritance that is imperishable, not for earthly gains that are perishable.

With all that being said, there is certainly spiritual fruit that comes from the gospel; there are gospel effects. Regenerate Christians love others, serve others, give to others, seek to help strangers. This is all true.

But this movement seems to be seeking the effects of the gospel, and preaching them *as* gospel. Further, they make the effects non-negotiable mandates. As if to say, affirmative action is our primary Christian mission… except that, it’s not.

Preaching the gospel, making disciples, bearing witness to Christ by our testimony and lifestyle—those are all mandates of our mission. The social benefits are, to a smaller degree, the fruit & not the root.

However, this movement pushes back and is actively fighting for social fruit. And that’s where ‘intersectionality’ comes into play. This is the overarching tool of social justice.

By grouping people into nice, neat categories, they can be dealt with en masse, and coalitions of like-minded proponents can put pressure on others to force them to give them what they want.

This is, at its core, a version of Marxism—to see two classes (the haves & the have nots) warring against each other, with the ‘have not’ minority class attempting to overthrow the “privileged” majority class. But is that what Christ would have us do?

Are we social revolutionaries? Are we culture warriors? Are we supposed to be aggressively fighting to gain earthly benefits? While Bible verses are being used in various ways (ways foreign to the history of biblical interpretation), the scope of the Bible doesn’t support it.

At best, this social focus is a gospel distraction; at worst, it is a gospel distortion. I’m starting to believe that it is anti-gospel and anti-Christian.

Does it affect our churches? Absolutely, it does! The ministries, leaders, and resources being distributed are finding their way into the local church. Even small-town, senior citizen churchgoers have Facebook, and watch videos from online ministries.

We lament Joel Osteen and Creflo Dollar videos, pushing prosperity gospel to our people. We ought to lament this as well. Because what is the net effect? Gospel confusion and gospel misrepresentation.

Anybody who does any level of biblical counseling knows that victimhood is the number one enemy of true repentance and spiritual growth. If I can blame someone else for my problems, then I can avoid responsibility.

I fear the social justice movement is creating an environment where Christians are seeing themselves as victims, and not as beneficiaries of divine grace.

Further, where are the exhortations toward forgiveness, forbearance, endurance, humility, and grace? When was the last time you heard a social justice leader expound on Jesus’ teaching to “turn the other cheek”?

I’m not saying that there aren’t problems. Yes, racism exists, injustice exists, hatred exists; because sin exists! But how do we deal with these sins? The same way we deal with any other sin.

Now, believers who have repented of sins may feel led to impact those they’ve wronged in a positive, social way. But is it the church’s job to mandate it? Or is it up to personal conviction? Shaming the Bride into action is not of Christ.

What is the way forward? To be honest, I’m not 100% certain of every single step. But I know that our mandate is to continue to preach the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, to call sinners to repentance, to preach God’s wrath & grace, and to love the Body.

And for what it’s worth, I reject all pejorative labels, classes, and categorizations. I’m not a “white Evangelical.” My name is Nate, and I’m a bondslave of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Addendum: This isn’t my “hot take”—I’ve been watching things for several months, reading articles & books, talking with dozens of pastors. While I’ve repented of unkind or hurtful engagement, I want to be faithful to stand for the things I’m convinced are biblically true.

———————end Nate Pickowitz———————

Back to me now.

Decades of biblical illiteracy, personal prophecies, heaven tourism, the New Apostolic Reformation, IHOP/Bethel and the Charismaniacs, false professions of faith/false converts, tolerance of sin have deeply damaged the evangelical stance on the sufficiency of scripture and many other doctrines. It has tarnished the Gospel witness of the church. But that is to be expected.

Though other churches existed at the time Jesus wrote to the 7 mentioned in Revelation, of the 7, only 2 received no condemnation. That means of this particular microcosm, 72% of the churches had a significant enough problem within it to cause Jesus to write and threaten their dissolution. This kind of percentage is normal. It is even magnanimous, I believe. Most of the global church is bloated with non-believers or with people who are so apathetic for Christ or so distorted in their thinking their witness is practically nil.

However, the good news is that Jesus always leaves a remnant. His people are true and beautiful and working for His glory. They are sprinkled all around the world like salt, seasoning their spheres with truth and the Good News of His name. People newly converted are growing. Missions are working. Good books are being written. Solid sermons are being broadcast. Lives are being changed. Minds are being transformed. It IS happening.

None of this is a surprise to Jesus. While it may unsettle us to see such devastating controversy, and while it may dismay us to see its tendrils creep into our churches, and while it may upset us to see those tendrils go ignored or concerns about them discarded, Jesus is brightly shining and His glory is being manifested in every heart who truly knows Him. The Savior is victorious and the Church is triumphant.

 

——————————-
Pastor Nate Pickowicz (B.A., Muhlenberg College, M.A., Trinity Theological Seminary) was raised in Gilmanton Iron Works, New Hampshire, where he now lives with his wife, Jessica, and two children, Jack and Elizabeth. Before planting Harvest Bible Church, Nate worked in financial services until being called into ministry in 2009. He is the author of Reviving New England: The Key to Revitalizing Post-Christian America, and Why We’re Protestant: An Introduction to the Five Solas of the Reformation. He is also the general editor of The American Puritans Series.

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

Throwback Thursday: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize!

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 NASB).

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14) NASB)

 The above two verses remind us to keep our eyes and attention fixed on the prize: which is Jesus! When we shift our gaze from Jesus to the things around us, we lose strength, energy, and focus. The example below is used a lot in sermons and devotionals to demonstrate this concept. It is an oldie but a goodie. The following was published on The End Time in July 2010.

Florence Chadwick was a young woman in 1952 but had already swum the English Channel, both ways, and broke records doing it. That morning in 1952 she stood on the shores of California with intent to swim the 26 miles to Catalina Island. It was foggy. She was used to fog, rough water, and cold, having swum in these conditions since when was 11 years old so she was prepared for any conditions that may beset her on the long swim. It was so foggy that Florence could not see the support boats motoring around her to scare away the sharks. However after 15 hours of rough water stroke after stroke, she felt like she wasn’t getting anywhere. Despite encouragement from her mother and others in the support boat next to her, Florence wearied and asked to be taken out of the water. She soon discovered that she was half a mile from her goal.

Above, the Lubec Maine shoreline. There is lighthouse in this photo. Can you see it? 
[Photo by EPrata]

At a news conference the next day Florence said, “All I could see was the fog.…I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”

Florence tried again two months later. This time, she made it because she said that she kept a mental image of the shoreline in her mind while she swam.

This is the same scene as above after the fog rolled away. [Photo by EPrata]

Prophecy is not meant to BE the fog. It is knowable, profitable, and given to us for all education. It is a light to keep in our heart as to the immutable existence of God, His eternal promises, and the goal for every believer, to reach the eternal Lighthouse. Jesus meant for prophecy and His promises to the believer to be the mental image for us to hold dear as to the goal. Do not give up half a mile from the finish line! He is near, He is coming. Do not wander, drift, be swept away by currents taking you far from the goal. May every stroke of your swim toward eternity be as vigorous as the one before. Pray for that vigor. The Holy Spirit is there to help us:  “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;” (John 14:16)

If you knew that the Rapture was tomorrow would it change your decision not to study the Bible today? Not to pray? Not to help someone? If you knew it was next week, or next year, how differently would you act as a Christian? You’re tired. We are all tired. The wages of sin splash up on us, and sometimes splash into us. It is wearying holding firm against the current. But keep the goal in mind! Some fine morning,t eh call will come, and the fog will lift and we shall see Him clearly, in blazing glory and light!

What a day that will be!

Posted in poetry, Uncategorized

Kay Cude poetry: Risen and Ascended

Resurrection Sunday is past, the day we mark as the day to specifically celebrate Christ’s resurrection. However, Christians know that each Sunday in attending the gathering of the saints, hearing the preaching, singing the praises, giving cheerfully, we celebrate the resurrection again and again. Just the gathering is signal that we know and believe that Christ is alive, on His throne, hearing and receiving praises and worship. His glory and power are to be wondered at and praised.

Here is a beautiful work by poet Kay Cude. First, her Artist’s Statement:

I had begun this piece several months ago with only Spurgeon’s one quote, “Tis all my business here and below to cry, ‘Behold the Lamb!’ We are to point sinners to Jesus – all the while looking at Him ourselves, and praying that they also may look to Him, and live.” I was captivated by the image of the radiant glory of Christ in His transfiguration and subsequent ascension, but couldn’t settle on what I needed to say to complete the message, for it is directed at the unregenerate and the redeemed of Christ.

 

Thank you for your piece, “The Power of the Resurrection vs. the Stupidity of Easter,” for within it I found John MacArthur’s “The Power of the Resurrection” and within it another Spurgeon quote that completed the intent the first quote and Acts 1:10-11.

HE IS RISEN AND IS ASCENDED

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Hate Week Essay #3: The World will hate you

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. (John 15:18)

The kind of hate we discussed on Monday was the kind of righteous holy hate that God has against sin, divorce, lying, and the 6 other things the Proverbs listed. On Tuesday I followed that up with looking at our hate against those things that God hates, which, mirroring our God, is also a righteous hate (hopefully).

But the world’s hate comes from a completely different fountain. It comes from satan’s river of hate, and the world not only drinks from that fountain, but is immersed and submerged in it.

For what reason does the world hate Jesus? He explained that in John 7:7b

but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.

The Gospel is a command. It is a command for repentance and to obedience to God. People are commanded to repent because, as the other part of the Gospel so clearly says, people’s works are evil and do not please God. They will be judged one day.

No one likes to be told they are sinners, evil, and judged as wanting. In fact, the reprobate mind (as the unsaved possess) cannot understand those things. Therefore they will hate the one who tells them. They hated Jesus for it, and they hated it so much they killed Him.

Gill’s Commentary: how they had expressed their hatred, not only by words, calling him a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a sinner, a Samaritan, a madman, one that had a devil, yea, Beelzebub himself, but by deeds; taking up stones to stone him more than once, leading him to the brow of an hill, in order to cast him down headlong, consulting by various means to take away his life, as Herod did in his very infancy;

And as Paul alluded to here, they will hate the Apostles and disciples for it.

Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? (Galatians 4:16).

Stephen told the Jewish leaders the truth, and they were cut to the heart, but as Ellicott’s Commentary explains, it wasn’t a righteous anger over their own sin, it was a hatred of the one who told them.

They were cut to the heart.—Literally, were sawn through and through. The word describes a keener pang than the “pricked” of Acts 2:37, producing, not repentance, but the frenzy of furious anger.

The world has a killing hatred of Christ and His people.

Some Christians think that if we make the church friendly, those who are seeking will eventually relax into repentance. But it is not so. There is no one seeking after God, no not one, Romans 3:11 says. Therefore there are no seeker friendly churches. And secondly, the Gospel is tampered with to make it palatable to those whom people think are seeking. But the Gospel is a violent thing, it commands what doesn’t want to submit, it reveals what doesn’t want to be revealed. It judges, it forces. Any Gospel that’s changed in any aspect is no Gospel at all.

Paul said in Galatians 1:8,

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

No, we must carry the exact message the King sent to His Ambassadors, whether it’s received eagerly or in rejected in hatred.

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible reminds us not to be deterred.

If the world hate you – The friendship of the world they were not to expect, but they were not to be deterred from their work by its hatred. They had seen the example of Jesus. No opposition of the proud, the wealthy, the learned, or the men of power, no persecution or gibes, had deterred him from his work. Remembering this, and having his example steadily in the eye, they were to labor not less because wicked men should oppose and deride them. It is enough for the disciple to be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord, Matthew 10:25.

They hated Jesus. At some point, someone will hate you (and me) for sharing the Gospel, or for witnessing with our life and deeds. And that is good, for we would be like our Master. It’s hard to slough off the world’s hatred, but this world is not our home. We are from a far country, where no hatred exists, only love and devotion to our Master.

prickly 3

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

Wayback Wednesday: The Bride Awaits her Groom

This first appeared on The End Time in February 2012.

 

What a lovely and spotless bride Jesus is creating! We often look around and see the mud and grime of the world and despair. For those of us who are older, we remember innocent days when children played outside unsupervised, roamed the streets with sticks and balls and bats, safe and happy. We remember when crime was lower and people were nicer. Today is it pretty ugly out there, and that of course is because of sin. But…the Bride of Jesus is shining, spotless, and beautiful! Do not forget that! Wearing garments white as snow, standing by the crystal sea, singing praises to Jesus! His acceptance of all the wrath of God on our behalf made possible our entrance into heaven. Our ugly and putrid sins were forgiven through His sacrificial act.

This is the long betrothal period, when the bride is separated from her groom. The bride are all those people past, present and future in the Age of Grace who have believed on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and His resurrection. We are anxious, waiting. We are making preparations such as remaining faithful. We are looking forward to the wedding day when everything will be perfect and we will be ready! (Revelation 19:7)

All brides on her wedding day are beautiful. She is radiant, and glowing and smiling and happy. Her white garment is spotless and adorns and wraps her gracefully. All the believers are installed in New Jerusalem, the holy city, which takes on the characteristics of the bride herself, because we who are His bride are in it. (Revelation 21:2).

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”

We are finally united with our Groom!

The world is ugly and putrid and dripping with evil and poison and sin. But that is not us, thanks to Jesus our Christ. We are not of the world. Believers are spotless and beautiful in Christ’s eyes.

…Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 25b-27)

Stand up, you believers, and make ready for the Groom. You are so pure and lovely in His eyes. We who eagerly await Him are also eagerly awaited BY Him!

wedding

Posted in bible reading plan, Uncategorized

Bible Reading Plan thoughts: Reading the introductions

The Bible Reading Plan for today is to read Psalm 6-8. I’ve resolved of late to read the introductions of the passages and not skip them. Also, to read the endings and read the notes, like these in the Psalms I’m about to discuss. If all scripture is profitable, then I shouldn’t skip the intros, conclusions, lists of names, genealogies, or musical directions, lol.

Often David or the other Psalmist would make notes to the musicians who were going to play the songs, like this that begins Psalm 6-

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. According to sheminith. A psalm of David.

Of course, once I read the note and see something like ‘Sheminith’, I got curious. Like, what is a Sheminith?

I read in Easton’s Bible Dictionary about Sheminith:

That the Hebrew of shemini is an ordinal number, eight. The Easton’s Bible Dictionary says sheminith is Eight; octave, a musical term, supposed to denote the lowest note sung by men’s voices (1 Chronicles 15:21; Psalm 6; 12, title).

Nobody really knows for sure. Other Bible dictionaries defined it slightly differently, but along the same lines. Some said, ‘we dunno, the word has passed out of use and understanding.’ I’ts still interesting to look these things up, though.

Psalm 7 is a Shiggaion. Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines Shiggaion,

From the verb shagah, “to reel about through drink,” occurs in the title of Psalm 7. The plural form, shigionoth, is found in Habakkuk 3:1. The word denotes a lyrical poem composed under strong mental emotion; a song of impassioned imagination accompanied with suitable music; a dithyrambic ode.

Psalm 8 is “according to The Gittith: A stringed instrument of music.”

This word is found in the titles of Psalm 8, 81, 84. In these places the LXX. render the word by “on the wine-fats.” The Targum explains by “on the harp which David brought from Gath.” It is the only stringed instrument named in the titles of the Psalms. Easton’s Bible Dictionary

Well, that was about as clear as mud.

I do know that once we’re in heaven, we’ll likely be singing. (Revelation 5:9). Will we be singing these Psalms in heaven, properly as David originally wrote them, (According to sheminith, a Shiggaion, or with The Gittith?). I hope so. Wouldn’t it be nice if we did!

Meanwhile I resolve not to skip the intros, conclusions, lists, or notations. All scripture is profitable… I don’t always understand how scripture profits me, but I trust that it does.

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Further reading

I always enjoy Phil Johnson’s knowledge of the Psalms and his clear delivery in explaining them.

Here is a page of Phil preaching the Psalms, including one we are to read today, Psalm 8. Interestingly, Phil introduces his sermon by explaining what can be known about the mysterious term ‘according to the Gitteth’.

wed harp

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

A year end thank you for all that Grace To You has done for me

A letter I wrote to GTY regarding thanks for the radio ministry. The ministry means SO MUCH to me.

Dear Grace To You,

I want to take a moment to share how God used John’s radio broadcast in my spiritual life.

I was saved at age 44. Before salvation, I spent my life as all sinners do, for myself, rebelling against God. New England is a dark place, and an adult can go a lifetime and not run into anything Christian, or a Bible, or a preacher. I was ignorant of anything related to Jesus. I was certainly ignorant of my own sin, except for the conscience that pricked me.

me with abby one copy1
Camping in FL. 20 years ago, I didn’t know Jesus.

My husband and I liked to travel and we decided to take a long cross-country camping trip in our pop-up camper. We listened to the radio all along the way. We enjoyed talk radio and searched for programs that would help us pass the time as we drove. As we entered the southern part of the United States, we inevitably came across the radio dial of typical southern preachers with their funny accent and pulpit pounding exposition, yelling “JAY-sus! We’d laugh and tee hee about those silly Jesus people. And then we’d hurriedly change the dial.

Whenever we came across John’s Grace To You broadcast, and the introduction music soon became familiar as his program was on many stations, his voice was different. It was logical, soothing. The content of what he was saying intrigued me, as much as it repulsed me. My conscience was pricked even more. I always lingered a bit, listening. But then my husband would change the dial away from the “Jesus stuff” as we called it, I’d feel both relieved that the spiritual pressure was gone but curious for more, too. I didn’t understand this push-pull.

Five years later, the Lord saved me. The internet offered a wealth of sermons, devotionals, and biblical instruction. But which one to pick? Then one day I heard that music. “I know that music!” I said. I heard John’s voice. “I know that guy!” I said. And now that I was saved, the content of what John was saying made sense. More than that, the content of what he was saying inspired me, illuminated my mind, and soothed me. I quickly devoured sermon after sermon. Having no church baggage to unlearn, John’s sermons went straight into my soul. He taught the Doctrine of Justification, and moved to the Doctrine of Election.

Six years after that, I listened live as John finished preaching through the New Testament. It was a historic moment. Even more personally for me, it was a poignant moment. Before I was even saved, God had used John to spark my conscience as a sinner curiously repulsed by the ‘Jesus stuff’ he was preaching, through to salvation, to growth by the Spirit, to burgeoning maturity and becoming a Titus 3 church woman to the younger ladies. God used John through it all. He is still using John in my spiritual life as I read many of his books and still listen to the wonderful sermons.

chisos mountains
Camping in Texas. One day in the future, I’d hear the GTY music and my mind and soul would light up

God used John to preload me in readiness for the moment I would in His timing, come into the kingdom and begin learning the glories of God. John’s familiar voice, the familiar music, led me by His grace to this solid ministry upon which God laid the foundation of my growth.

Thank you John MacArthur and all of you at Grace To You. I praise God for the men He has raised up.

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But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” (John 5:17)

God is always working in the lives of those who He will eventually call into His kingdom, and continues working in our lives after that, forever and ever.

 

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

There is encouragement in prophecy

The prophetic scriptures are often overlooked as being allegorical only (they’re not), as being irrelevant (they’re not) as being fulfilled (not all of them) as being tinged with the stigma of not being as important as the ‘real’ verses (nope, just as important). I’ve noticed that the Bible says we should be excited about the soon appearing of our Lord, encouraged by the doctrine of imminence, (1 Thessalonians 4:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:11), and in awe of the Lord’s deeds (Exodus 15:11; Psalm 66:5; Zephaniah 2:11…).

God, in His infinite wisdom, put prophecy in His Word because He knows it is good for us to understand His future plans, as far as He has revealed them. (Amos 3:7). Thus, the Lord has put prophetical truth into His Word because He wants us to know! Prophecy reveals His sovereignty more than any other scripture, in my opinion. He tells us thousands of years prior and then it comes true exactly the way He said. I never get tired of seeing it in culture and reading it in scripture and knowing it dear in my heart.

“Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning,And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’ Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.” (Isaiah 46:9-11).

In addition, prophecy reveals His sovereignty because it shows that His purposes cannot be set aside, diverted nor thwarted. He is over all that exists, and He will bring it about as He has said.

Prophecy leads us to Christ. For who above anyone else can do these things. Who is like Him? None!

“Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come–yes, let him foretell what will come.” (Isaiah 44:7).

There is no God like our God, and He chose to reveal details of His plan and purpose from the ancient of times to now. Learn it! Study it! Be humbled by it! You will be in awe of Him, AND you will be comforted. He will bring about our redemption just as He brings about these other things. He will bring about our renewal from creatures of sin to creations of His glory. It is a comfort to remain in His truth, His word is a security blanket that comforts as much as it convicts.

“Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:11-12).

prophecy